I thought it may be helpful to share my experience with anodizing/re-anodizing Muster vibe bars. This is a small sample based on unscientific experience of two sets of bars, and a total of three trips to two different anodizers. I’d sure think long and hard about taking this on myself again. Take my advice comments at your own risk! Also not all bars are anodized! Some are painted and/or have a clear coat on them.
The first set I had done for a paying customer for an M-75 on top of a custom Walnut frame (not a cheap endeavor). The bars were not in bad shape, but they did have some dings and scratches. By the way, a google search on aluminum anodization will provide some good explanations. At a high level it’s a chemical process that is basically a controlled corrosion and it yields a layer on top of aluminum that is stronger than steel. —They have to first strip the old anodization off and lay down a new layer.
Set #1: I found a place in downtown Indianapolis and I dropped by with a picture of a vibe and they gave me a bit of under $200 to strip and re-anodized the bars in gold. BTW they thought it was cool seeing the picture. After about a week I got them back. The rep at the anodizer said some of the bars came out “flakey”. To my eyes they some looked smooth like the original M55, some had a repeating pattern. He told me that they have no control how that turns out. So I took them to another Anodizer and they were stripped and basically came out the same way, some smooth, some “flaky”. The guy I was building the vibe for was fine with the appearance (thank goodness). The two strippings and two anodizations, ALL the bars were almost a semitone flat.
I had them retuned by Century Mallet in Chicago and they sounded amazing (and still do). They have a wonderfully warm and rich tone and round and thick sound to my ears. I’m going to take a little credit here. I did a complete rebuild on the century frame in Black Walnut and the new frame and replaced resonator paint etc helps the sound too. They had to take a lot of meat off of the ends of the bars to bring them back in tune. BTW
Set #2 (Also in gold) . I had them strip just ONE of the bars and interestingly there was paint on the under side. The process for removing anodization will not work on paint. So I removed all the paint (or what I thought was paint) off of the underside of the bars with scotch brite and paint thinner. They said there was some king of gunk on the under side of the bars but the tops (and sides) anodized OK. The result was almost exactly the same. Some bars had a pattern some did not I brought them back home and did some more hand cleaning before I sent them off for turning. I wished I had done this in two steps (see final thoughts).
Set #2 bars sound great too and they look fine from a distance but they don’t all look exactly the same.
I’ve heard second hand that getting a uniform gold color on bars is not easy for some reason. As a side ote I recently picked up newer silver M-55 (circa 2006) and ALL the bars have the crosshatch pattern on them. It looks better since it’s consistent across all the bars. Part of me is curious if they’d be consistent if they were anodized in gold. Unless I win the lottery I’m not going to experiment. By they way both sets of bars were well over a quarter-tone flat after anodization
- Unless the bars are a total loss, I probably learn to live with scratches and not mess with re-anodizing. Re-tune, certainly re-anodize, I dunno.
- Before I tried this again, I’d see if one of the bar tuners would give it a go and have them do it if the price was right.
- IF I did this again I’d have the bars stripped of the anodization. I’d bring them back to my shop and go over them with some fine scotchbrite in case any paint or other residue was still on the bars. Then I’d send them back to get anodized.
- See final thought #1